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Lockdown 4.0: Are you allowed to buy non-essential items like laptops, mobile phones online?

The updated MHA guidelines for lockdown 4.0 gives individual states the authority to a take a call on allowing e-commerce delivery of non-essential items like smartphones, laptops in all areas, except for containment zones.

May 18, 2020 / 05:49 PM IST

Consumers may soon be able to buy new smartphones, laptops and other electronics during lockdown 4.0. The Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) has released a fresh set of guidelines, under which other activities will be permitted, except those which are specifically prohibited under the lockdown 4.0 guidelines.

There has been an increased demand for smartphones and laptops during the lockdown. However, consumers were not able to purchase electronic items as the government had not added mobile, laptops, etc. under essential items. Smartphone sales had resumed on May 4 after the government relaxed some lockdown rules for areas in Green and Orange zones. The new lockdown 4.0 guidelines has extended these relaxations to more areas.

E-commerce activities have not been specifically prohibited in the lockdown 4.0 guidelines, thus allowing them to resume deliveries. The new MHA guidelines for lockdown 4.0 suggest that e-commerce services can resume in full force starting May 18. However, the ministry has given the states the authority to prohibit/ permit activities based upon the ground situation. This means that depending upon the number of cases in each zone, state governments can permit the sale of smartphones, laptops, and other electronics via e-commerce based on their assessment. The MHA lockdown 4.0 guidelines do not permit allowing the sale of non-essential items in containment zones, where the number of coronavirus cases are high.

While several states are yet to announce their respective guidelines, the industry has welcomed the Home Ministry’s move to allow the sale of non-essential items in select areas. Srinivas Mothey, Senior VP of PayTm Mall welcomed the new lockdown 4.0 relaxations. "We thank the government for taking the decision for allowing the delivery of non-essentials in red zones across the country. This move will help us deliver to most of the metro cities which presently fall in the red zones,” Mothey told news agency PTI.

"We are ensuring that all state and central guidelines are followed to operate in the red zones. In the coming week, we hope for more relaxations in the interstate movement of non-essential goods so that e-commerce activity scales up," he added. 

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A Snapdeal spokesperson said, “Our sellers and delivery partners have worked extensively to meet these requirements while exercising strict safety measures and we applaud their commitment in rising to the occasion.” He further added that the company is "ready and equipped" to now start serving customers all across India - in red, green and orange zones - and added that the development will enable lakhs of medium and small online sellers to start rebuilding their businesses.

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first published: May 18, 2020 01:21 pm